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Today’s guest post is by Leo Frincu, the owner of RESULTS Personal Fitness Studio in Sherman Oaks, CA. He’s also a World Champion wrestler and a wellness, career and personal life coach. In his post, Leo writes about his humble beginnings in Romania and his rise to fame as a wrestling star. Leo was Romanian Athlete of the Year in 1994, and in 2003 he was a trainer and coach for the U.S. olympic wrestling team. For more information, visit www.resultsstudio.com or www.leofrincu.com. You can also follow Leo on Twitter at @LeoFrincu, and on Facebook.
It was November 1999 when I first landed in LA with only $10, a backpack and four words to my name.
According to many people, I’m now living the American Dream. After all, this country gave me an opportunity — the opportunity to own who I am, and create the life that I wanted. That is just what I have done. Now I want to help others do the same.
I was born in Romania in 1976, and grew up under Communism.
This meant waking up at 4 a.m. on Saturday and having only 30 minutes for all five family members to take a shower before the hot water was shut off. It also meant curfew at 10 p.m., meaning the entire city’s electricity was shut off.
Obtaining groceries under Communism required a well-planned strategy. We didn’t have Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s or Ralph’s, and we didn’t have organic foods. We had stores with empty shelves.
We were afraid to talk about a better life. In fact, we were scared to even think about it. We were afraid that someone might hear us and turn us to the militia, turning us into political prisoners. We were brainwashed to believe that the way life was in Romania was the only way.
When I was six years old, one way of releasing my frustration was getting into fights in the schoolyard. One of my neighbors saw me, and took me to the wrestling room and introduced me to wrestling. Wrestling, for me, was a way to fight against that life. It was a way to prove I was stronger than the Communist mentality. I wanted to stand out; I wanted to become the best; I wanted to be different. Wrestling was the first place that I felt that I could do that. I felt it reflected who I was at my core.
There were no other opportunities to do that during my childhood. There were so few places to truly forge an identity. I felt trapped, but wrestling made me feel free.
Even as a child I knew that I could never be defined by Communism. My intuition told me that the life I was born into was not the life I wanted, and I was never going to settle for less than who I wanted to be.
I was 14 when I first competed in my first World Championships, placing fourth in Turkey. Although Communism had fallen seemingly overnight, that psychology took years to change; therefore, being an athlete was still the best ticket in town for a young man like me.
Despite the fact that Romania was no longer under Communist rule, the country still suffered without opportunities for growth or success. By the time I was 18, I had hundreds of matches all over the world and I had won several national championships and international tournaments.
Wrestling was very hard. I spent many years starving in order to make my weight class for different competitions and sometimes I went without eating and drinking for days at a time. Sometimes I used to sleep with wet towels on me, to cool myself down being so heated due to dehydration.
I was 18 when I won the World Title gold medal at the World Championships and was named the Best Athlete of Romania in 1994. After winning the gold medal, I started training for the upcoming 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, becoming one of the most valuable Olympic hopefuls in the country.
Being aware that I needed to eventually leave Romania didn’t stop me from pursuing my immediate goal, which were the Olympic Games. Knowing that by accomplishing that, it would be easier to accomplish my ultimate goal — leaving Romania.
Finally, in 1999, I had scheduled a trip to the United States Olympic Training Center to train with the US Olympic Wrestling Team.
After that, my decision was easy: I felt invincible. Commitment transformed my fear and dread into fuel.
I landed in LA without knowing what to expect and ready for whatever America had to offer. I felt like a newborn, learning a new language, tasting new foods and experiencing a totally different society and way of life.
After a few weeks, I got a job as a dishwasher and washed toilets in a Romanian restaurant in Hollywood, but I was very excited. I never felt too good to do the job, nor let my ego get between me and my goal.
In only a few years I moved from working in the kitchen to serving tables in the most upscale restaurants in LA.
Simultaneously, I was training, competing and promoting myself as a World Champion wrestler in the wrestling community. I started training in a garage, and then competing in local championships.
In only a few years, I won several California State Championships, trained several Olympians and was invited to the US Olympic Center to train the US wrestling team.
Having several goals at the same time allowed me to take small steps toward each one of them, preventing me from feeling overwhelmed and getting the satisfaction of achieving something on a daily basis.
Soon after, I got a job as a landscaper digging ditches, and then later I got another job as a waiter.
During one of my wrestling seminars, I met the owner of a private gym. He introduced me to personal training, and later on offered me a job — training one client at 5 a.m., twice a week. From then on, setting goal after goal, working hard and staying committed, I ended up training 30 clients per week.
It wasn’t long after when I bought and opened my own private fitness studio – RESULTS – in Sherman Oaks, CA., in 2006. I was 30 years old. I brought with me at RESULTS a high level of professionalism and a world-class training environment with high-level professional training staff. Through RESULTS, I have had the opportunity to help empower many people to conquer their own personal adversity, get in shape and enjoy a healthy lifestyle.
All this was possible by staying focused and setting small goals toward my ultimate goal. People call me successful, and I agree with that. You want to know why? My definition of success is discovering your passion and pursuing your dreams. I discovered my passion and I’m pursuing my dreams.
It means doing something that you love, never letting anything stop you and realizing when you are the real obstacle between you and your dreams. Never doubt yourself and never set limitations on yourself.
I’m here to tell you, it takes work, real work and commitment, but anything is possible.
What do you think of Leo’s story? Let him know in the comments!
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